А.951(23) Improved Guidelines for Marine Portable Fire Extinguishers


Resolution А.951(23)


(adopted on 5 December 2003)





RECALLING Article 15(j) of the Convention on the International Maritime Organization concerning the functions of the Assembly in relation to regulations and guidelines concerning maritime safety,


RECALLING ALSO that it adopted, by resolution A.602(15), the Revised Guidelines for marine portable fire extinguishers, to supplement the relevant requirements of chapter II-2 of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), 1974, as amended, as well as chapter V of the Torremolinos International Convention for the Safety of Fishing Vessels, 1977,


RECOGNIZING the need to further improve the Revised Guidelines for marine portable fire extinguishers in view of adoption of amendments to chapter II-2 of the 1974 SOLAS Convention and of the 1993 Torremolinos Protocol and in the light of experience gained with the application of the Revised Guidelines,


HAVING CONSIDERED the recommendation made by the Maritime Safety Committee at its seventy-fifth session,


1. ADOPTS the Improved Guidelines for Marine Portable Fire Extinguishers, the text of which is set out in the Annex to the present resolution;


2. RECOMMENDS Governments concerned to apply the Improved Guidelines set out in the Annex, in conjunction with the appropriate requirements of the above instruments;


3. AUTHORIZES the Maritime Safety Committee to keep the Improved Guidelines under review and amend or extend them as necessary;


4. RESOLVES to supersede resolution A.602(15).




1. Scope


These Guidelines have been developed to supplement the relevant requirements for marine portable fire extinguishers* of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea 74, as amended, the International Code for fire safety systems (FSS Code) and the 1993 Torremolinos Protocol relating to the Torremolinos International Convention for the Safety of Fishing Vessels, 1977. The Guidelines are offered to Administrations to assist them in determining appropriate design and construction parameters. The status of the Guidelines is advisory. Their content is based on current practices and does not exclude the use of designs and materials other than those indicated below.


* Wherever in the text of these Guidelines the word "portable extinguisher" appears it should be taken as meaning "marine portable fire extinguisher".


2. Definitions


2.1 An extinguisher is an appliance containing an extinguishing medium, which can be expelled by the action of internal pressure and be directed into a fire. This pressure may be stored pressure or be obtained by release of gas from a cartridge.


2.2 A portable extinguisher is one, which is designed to be carried and operated by hand, and which in working order has a total weight of not more that 23 kg.


2.3 Extinguishing medium is the substance contained in the extinguisher the action of which causes extinction of fire.


2.4 Charge of an extinguisher is the mass or volume of the extinguishing medium contained in the extinguisher. The quantity of the charge of water or foam extinguishers is normally expressed in volume (litres) and that of other types of extinguishers in mass (kilograms).


3. Classification


3.1 Extinguishers are classified according to the type of extinguishing medium they contain. At present the types of extinguishers and the uses for which they are recommended are as follows:


Extinguishing medium

Recommended for use on fires involving


Water with additives

wood, paper, textiles and similar materials


wood, paper, textiles and flammable liquids

Dry powder/Dry Chemical (standard/classes В, С)

flammable liquids, electrical equipment and flammable gases

Dry powder/Dry chemical (multiple or general purpose/classes А, В, С)

wood, paper, textiles, flammable liquids, and flammable gases electrical equipment

Dry powder/Dry chemical (metal)

combustible metals

Carbon dioxide

flammable liquids, electrical equipment

Wet chemical for class F or К

cooking grease, fats or oil fires

Clean agents*



* Refer to the recommendations by the International Organization for Standardization, in particular Publication ISO 7165:1999, "Fire-fighting - Portable fire extinguishers - Performance and construction".


3.2 A table is provided in the appendix, which describes the general characteristics of each type of extinguisher.


4. Construction


4.1 The construction of an extinguisher should be designed and manufactured for simple and rapid operation, and ease of handling.


4.2 Extinguishers should be manufactured to a recognized national or international standard*, which includes a requirement that the body, and all other parts subject to internal pressure, be tested:


* Refer to the recommendations by the International Organization for Standardization, in particular Publication ISO 7165:1999, "Fire-fighting - Portable fire extinguishers - Performance and construction".


.1 to a pressure of 5.5 MPa or 2.7 times the normal working pressure, whichever is the higher, for extinguishers with a service pressure not exceeding 2.5 MPa; or


.2 in accordance with the recognized standard for extinguishers with a service pressure exceeding 2.5 MPa.


4.3 In the design of components, selection of materials and determination of maximum filling ratios and densities, consideration should be given to the temperature extremes to which extinguishers may be exposed on board ships and operating temperature ranges specified in the recognized standards.


4.4 The materials of construction of exposed parts and adjoining dissimilar metals should be carefully selected to function properly in the marine environment.


5. Fire classifications


Fire classifications are generally A, B, C, D and F (or K). There are currently two standards, defining classes of fires according to the nature of the material undergoing combustion, as follows:


International Organization for Standardization

(ISO standard 3941)*

National Fire Protection Association (NFPA 10)

Class A: Fires involving solid materials, usually of an organic nature, in which combustion normally takes place with the formation of glowing embers

Class A: Fires in ordinary combustible materials such as wood, cloth, paper, rubber and many plastics

Class B: Fires involving liquids or liquefiable solids

Class B: Fires in flammable liquids, oils, greases, tars, oil base paints, lacquers and flammable gases

Class C: Fires involving gases

Class C: Fires, which involve energized electrical equipment where the electrical non-conductivity of the extinguishing medium is of importance. (When electrical equipment is de-energized, extinguishers for class A or В fires may be used safely.)

Class D: Fires involving metals

Class D: Fires in combustible metals such as magnesium, titanium, zirconium, sodium, lithium, and potassium

Class F: Fires involving cooking oil

Class K: Fires involving cooking grease, fats and oils


6. Test specifications


6.1 Construction, performance and fire-extinguishing test specifications should be to the satisfaction of the Administration, having due regard to an established international standard**.


* Comite Europeen de Normalisation (CEN standard EN2) closely follows ISO standard 3941.

** Refer to the recommendations by the International Organization for Standardization, in particular Publication ISO 7165:1999, "Fire-fighting - Portable fire extinguishers - Performance and construction".


7. Criteria for assessing compliance with chapter 4 of the FSS Code and regulations V/20 and V/38 of the 1993 Torremolinos protocol relating to the 1977 Torremolinos convention


7.1 Chapter 4 of the FSS Code requires that extinguishers have a fire-extinguishing capability at least equivalent to that of a 9 litre fluid extinguisher having a rating of 2A on class A fire which may be water or foam as required by the Administration. This equivalence may be demonstrated by fire test ratings determined according to an international, national or other recognized standard.


7.2 The size and type of extinguishers should be dependent upon the potential fire hazards in the protected spaces while avoiding a multiplicity of types. Care should also be taken to ensure that the quantity of extinguishing medium released in small spaces does not endanger personnel.


8. Marking of extinguishers


Each extinguisher should be clearly marked with the following minimum information:


.1 name of the manufacturer;


.2 types of fire and rating for which the extinguisher is suitable;


.3 type and quantity of extinguishing medium;


.4 approval details;


.5 instructions for use and recharge (it is recommended that operating instructions be given in pictorial form, in addition to explanatory text in language understood by the likely user);


.6 year of manufacture;


.7 temperature range over which the extinguisher will operate satisfactorily; and


.8 test pressure.


9. Periodical inspections and maintenance


9.1 Extinguishers should be subject to periodical inspections in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions and serviced at intervals not exceeding one year.


9.1.1 At least one extinguisher of each type manufactured in the same year and kept on board a ship should be test discharged at five yearly intervals (as part of a fire drill).


9.1.2 All extinguishers together with propellant cartridges should be hydraulically tested in accordance with the recognized standard or the manufacturer's instruction at intervals not exceeding ten years.


9.1.3 Service and inspection should only be undertaken by, or under the supervision of, a person with demonstrable competence, based on the inspection guide at Table 9.


9.2 Records of inspections should be maintained. The records should show the date of inspection, the type of maintenance carried out, and whether or not a pressure test was performed.


9.3 Extinguishers should be provided with a visual indication of discharge.


9.4 Instructions for recharging extinguishers should be supplied by the manufacturer and be available for use on board.


Table 9.
Inspection Guide



Safety clip and indicating devices

Check to see if the extinguisher may have been operated

Pressure indicating device

Where fitted check to see that the pressure is within limits. Check that dust covers on pressure indicating devices and relief valves are in place

External examination

Inspect for corrosion, dents or damage which may affect the, safe operation of the extinguisher


Weigh the extinguisher and check the mass compared to the fully charged extinguisher

Hose and Nozzle

Check that hoses and nozzles are clear and are undamaged

Operating instructions

Check that they are in place and legible


Water and foam charges

Remove the charge to a clean container if to be reused and check if it is still suitable for further use. Check any charge container

Powder charges

Examine the powder for reuse. Ensure that it is free flowing and that there is no evidence of caking lumps or foreign bodies

Gas Cartridge

Examine for damage and corrosion



Air passages and Operating mechanism

Prove clear passage by blowing through vent holes and vent devices in the cap. Check hose, nozzle strainer, discharge tube and breather valve, as applicable. Check the operating and discharge control. Clean and lubricate as required


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